Greetings one and all and welcome to Haunted Trails, Multiversity’s very own behind the scenes column for Oni Press’ smash hit, The Sixth Gun! For over a year now, The Sixth Gun has treated readers to one of the most intelligently written, impeccably drawn and generally breathtaking serial comic books of the last ten years. Starting with the monumental final chapter of the latest arc, writer Cullen Bunn and I will sit down each month to dig deeper into each issue of the series, providing behind the scenes insight into the creation of the book and speculating different ways it could progress down its dark path. If ever you wanted more insight and goodness when putting down an issue of the book, this is officially the place to find it!
Issue #17, from start to finish, is completely indicative of everything that makes the book so fantastic. It occurred to me multiple times while speaking with Cullen that there really is no perfect place to begin this column due to the equilibrium established by the series up until this point. We have just enough unanswered questions and just enough of a basis of plot to really start peeking around corners and unfolding a few mysteries with the series, and thats exactly what we’ve done.
Click on down for our exclusive behind the scenes look at Issue #17 and be sure to come back next month for more!
NOTE: Spoilers for The Sixth Gun #17 are discussed.
Joshua Mocle:We open with the grand, foreboding return of BillJohn O’Henry (whatever’s left of him). This is the first time that we see him operating, at least as far as we know, without direct orders from Drake. Are we starting to see a new side to the golems created by the Guns?
Cullen Bunn: Are you sure he’s not operating on Drake’s orders, though? I’ve always liked the idea that Billjohn may have a little more “personality” than the other husk-creatures, and I’ve hinted at that a bit before. In this case, though, I have to leave the truth of Billjohn’s actions here for the future… ‘til issue 18, in fact.
JM: How did you go about scripting this page? It is deceptively dynamic for just four short panels and manages to send a message right off the bat that “trouble is a’ brewin’!”
CB: With this page, I definitely tried to think about it from a cinematic perspective, like the opening scene of a TV show or movie. I wanted the page to establish a kind of brooding mood, a hint of some of the things that were going to happen later. Being Billjohn is a dead (pun intended) silent character, he worked perfectly for those few panels.
JM: What was the motivation in introducing the Knights of Solomon as a foil to the Sword of Abraham?
CB: I wanted to show how different groups might want the weapons for different purposes. We explore this in every issue of the series on an individual level, but these two factions put a very fine point on it.
JM: We’ve seen several individuals and organizations in pursuit of The Six since the start of the book. What makes the Knights of Solomon as much of a significant threat as Brother Roberto implies?
CB: The Knights of Solomon are dangerous because they are actively seeking items of occult significance–with the intent of using them for personal gain. The Six can be used to rewrite all of creation… and the Knights are ready to make that happen. As to what kind of world they’re hoping to create, Brother Roberto and the Sword of Abraham aren’t willing to speculate.
JM: Are we going to find out just how The Six have changed their forms to fit the time period? Can you speak to any of that yet?
CB: Yes! We’ll see more about the different forms of The Six. I don’t think we’ll ever go into, say, a full arc or even an issue on the subject. We don’t want to jump too far away from the core story we’re trying to tell. But we will be revealing at least some glimpses into the past. There as been some discussion of doing a limited series focused on the different incarnations of The Six, but there’s nothing definite yet.Continued below
JM: Given how long the Knights appear to have been around, is it reasonable to assume they’ve encountered some of the other villainous individuals we’ve encountered so far?
CB: That’s a safe assumption. The knights have been at play in this book from the very first issue. They’re around if you look for them. They’ve got eyes on all the players in the game… and they’ve been dealing with some of the villains for a long, long time.
JM: Finally we learn just what Braxton Hood wants from Gord. Backtracking for a moment though, ghosts appear to have certain qualities in your universe that make them distinct. For one, many people seem able to see and interact with them and two, they can interact with the living world much more than most ghosts have been able to and three, they do not seem unable or unwilling to influence the living. Why did you want your ghosts to be, for lack of a better term, so alive?
CB: In this story in particular, I wanted the ghosts to be much more like living beings. I thought that would make them much more of a temptation for Gord. They’re more like “living” memories that are stirred up by Gord’s presence. That’s not to say they’re the only type of ghost in the world.
JM: Who is Krieg and how does he know so much about The Six?
CB: I’ve always intended for Krieg’s books to be The Sixth Gun’s equivalent of The Necronomicon, so that would make Krieg our Abdul Alhazred. This is another situation where I originally intended him to be something of a “throw-away” reference, but the more I think about him, the more I want to delve into his history. The tragic details of his life will be revealed along with the origin of another character who has been seen in the book a couple of times, but only briefly.
JM: Will we ever be given a peek at the actual text inside of his books?
CB: That would be cool, wouldn’t it? I’d love to take a crack at writing some of the ancient text from the book, but I’d only want to do it if Brian could do some more of the awesome design work he hinted at in this arc.
JM: Both this issue and last we’ve seen The Sixth Gun do things we had not seen it do before. Will we be seeing new dimensions to the other Guns’ abilities as well?
CB: The Sixth Gun definitely does more than anyone suspects, and we’ll be revealing some more of its applications in issues to come. I just scripted an issue that shows off some interesting applications of the weapons known abilities, and there’s an issue coming up in the fifth arc that reveals some new powers as well.
JM: It’s clear that whomever is keeping Drake captive is NOT after the guns given that Drake is still alive. What can you tell us about the ones keeping him captive?
CB: You’d think they’d just kill Drake if they wanted the guns, wouldn’t you? But if they kill him while the guns aren’t in their control, then the weapons could fall into anyone’s hands. At least if they have Drake hidden away, they know his pistols are effectively out of play.
Or is there another reason they might want Drake alive?
(The answer’s a big “yes.”)
JM: The last few issues have seen Becky become more openly aggressive, until she reaches the point of taking forcible leave from her protector/captors (with a little help from BillJohn of course). How much of this is her learning from her experiences with Kirby Hale and her similarly harrowing experiences as of late, and how much of it is the gun influencing her actions?
CB: Becky’s growing and changing as a result of her adventures. She’s coming into her own based on the things that have happened and the people she’s encountered. Even in the first arc, there are glimpses that this is a girl who doesn’t take any guff. I mean, she stands up to General Hume. I never wanted her to be a damsel in distress, so it’s time for her to take matters into her own hands. In the next arc, she graduates fully into the ranks of badassery.Continued below
I’d like to send a HUGE thank you to Mr. Cullen Bunn for taking the time to gab with me, Mr. Cory Casoni at Oni for setting things up and you, the reader, for not only taking the time to read this little joint but, more importantly, for taking the time to read The Sixth Gun! The industry is a lot healthier with books like this on the shelf, and on top of that its damn fun too.
Stay tuned next month as we dive into Issue #18! -Josh-